News & Opinion | December 4, 2020 10:58 am

House Passes “Tiger King” Bill Banning Private Ownership of Big Cats

The bill would make it illegal for someone to own or breed big cats without an animal exhibition license

tiger
A Siberian tiger lays in its newly opened enclosure at Paradise Wildlife Park in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire. (Photo by Dave Rushen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett

On the same day that a volunteer at her Big Cat Rescue sanctuary nearly lost an arm after being bitten by a tiger, Tiger King‘s Carole Baskin received some good news: the House of Representatives voted to pass the bill she has been lobbying for that would ban private ownership of big cats, including tigers, lions, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars and cougars.

The House voted 272-114 on Thursday to pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which, as RollCall notes, would make it “illegal for someone to breed or own big cats without an animal exhibition license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture but would grandfather in current owners if they register with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and abide by federal regulations.”

The bill was in the works long before Tiger King aired, and Baskin can be seen visiting Capitol Hill to lobby for it on the series. It was reported out of the Natural Resources Committee in September 2019, six months before Tiger King hit Netflix, on a 21-14 vote.

Rep. Jared Huffman referenced the popular show when tweeting about the bill earlier in the week, writing, “Remember #TigerKing? Through the drama and twists, it showed a real issue: the inhumane exploitation of these majestic animals. We’re bringing the Big Cat Public Safety Act to end these practices up for a vote, and I’m glad to have helped move it forward through our committee.”

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